Federal Election 2016: Real estate industry unleashes campaign against Labor's negative gearing policy

The Federal Opposition insists it is not concerned about the real estate industry's threat to unleash a campaign against Labor's negative gearing policy.

Key points:

  • Labor says negative gearing policy will help first home buyers
  • Real estate industry says it will send rent prices up
  • Labor questions motives of industry, says they have no evidence
  • Property Council say negative gearing big issue for voters

More than 20 real estate chains and industry groups have met in Sydney to plan their attack against Labor's policy on negative gearing, which curbs tax breaks for some property investors.

Labor has defended its policy, saying it will help first- home buyers, and has questioned the motives of the real estate industry.

LJ Hooker CEO Grant Harrod, the co-ordinator of the campaign, said it was the first time the industry had ever come together as one.

"Really our focus is about educating first of all our respective agents and officers and in turn empowering them to educate their customers about what are the likely effects that will occur if there was a change to the current negative gearing legislation," Mr Harrod said.

The group has produced pamphlets to be distributed during the election campaign that warn property prices will fall, rents will go up, unemployment will rise and the whole economy will be jeopardised.

Mr Harrod said he estimated there were 80,000 licensed real estate agents and equally as many, if not more, property managers.

"Each one of those officers, those individuals, will have contact with a number of customers, so we would suggest we should be able to reach probably at least 70, 80 per cent of Australian residents via our respective databases and network of offices," he said.

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has defended Labor's policy.

"The real estate industry makes it clear, even in the article in News Limited today, they accept they have a vested interest in keeping the current arrangements," he said.

"Well, I'll tell you who doesn't have a vested interest in keeping the current arrangements — hundreds of thousands of first-home buyers who are being locked out of the market."

Mr Bowen said negative gearing needed to be changed and he said the real estate industry's campaign was not based on evidence.

"The real estate industry today is not launching or releasing any evidence, any modelling, not one little bit of support for their claims, for this ridiculous and shrill scare campaign," he said.

'Negative gearing a big issue for voters'

In Adelaide, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the real estate industry representatives knew what they were talking about.

"What they're saying is warning that Bill Shorten's reckless and dangerous experiment with the largest asset class in Australia will drive down home values and drive up rents," Mr Turnbull said.

"There are 170,000 households in South Australia that are renting, all of their rents will be going up if Bill Shorten becomes prime minister."

Ken Morrison, the chief executive of the Property Council of Australia, said he shared the concerns of the real estate alliance.

He said it was a big issue for voters in the lead-up to the federal election.

"The polls generally show that the economy is one of the major things that decides people's votes, and there's no doubt that the real estate sector is an enormous part of the economy," Mr Morrison said.

"It accounts for 11.5 per cent of GDP, so it is a very big slice of Australia.

"It's also a big slice of the household balance sheet. Not just the houses that people own and live in — people do aspire to get ahead and for many people the first step on a property ladder is an investment property while they live at home or they rent."

Source: ABC News

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